Waste Management, Inc. announced that it plans to use its expertise as the nation’s largest developer of landfill gas to energy (LFGTE) projects to partner with private and municipal landfill owners to develop the country’s untapped landfill gas resources. Waste Management is the first in the waste management industry to launch such a program.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) has endorsed landfill gas as an environmentally wise alternative energy resource that reduces our reliance on fossil fuels like coal and oil. Landfill gas is also an important source of waste-based, renewable energy that can generate distributed base load power. There are currently 445 LFGTE sites in operation across the country, but the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Landfill Methane Outreach Program (LMOP) has identified 535 additional sites (out of 1,700 total operating landfills) as promising candidates for LFGTE facilities – including 12 sites in the state of New York. Fully developed, LMOP estimates these additional landfills could produce over 1,200 megawatts of electricity, enough to power more than 1 million homes.
Waste Management is unique in the industry with its in-house expertise providing landfill gas management, power plant construction and operation and energy marketing. Its Renewable Energy group provides full service support to municipal and private landfill operators that lack the resources to develop LFGTE projects.
“Waste Management pioneered landfill gas to energy technology over two decades ago, and we have more of these facilities than any other company in North America,” said Paul Pabor, vice president of renewable energy. “As the largest operator of landfills, we understand how landfills operate and how best to leverage this valuable resource.”
In New York State, Waste Management operates four landfill-gas-to-energy plants generating a combined 25 megawatts of electricity – enough to power nearly 24,000 homes. In September, Waste Management’s third-party LFGTE development team broke ground on a LFGTE facility at the municipally owned Madison County landfill near Syracuse, New York. There, Waste Management will develop a 1.4-megawatt LFGTE facility.
Last year the company set an ambitious goal to develop up to 60 LFGTE projects at its landfills by 2012. To date the company has completed or launched the development of over a dozen projects across North America. The program to develop partnerships with other private and municipally owned landfills furthers Waste Management’s commitment to generate waste-based renewable power.
Landfill gas, produced when microorganisms break down organic material in the landfill, is composed of approximately 50-60 percent methane and 40-50 percent carbon dioxide. At most landfills in the United States, the methane is simply burned off. LFGTE facilities use methane gas offsetting power otherwise generated from fossil fuel.
Waste Management is North America’s largest operator of LFGTE facilities, with renewable energy projects at 112 of its landfills. Upon completion of the 60-project expansion begun in 2007, Waste Management expects to generate over 700 megawatts of energy from its landfills, enough to power 700,000 homes.